Famous 21st Century Anthropologists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey
4
Famous As: Zoologist, Conservationist
Birthdate: January 16, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: December 26, 1985
Zoologist, primatologist, and conservationist Dian Fossey conducted research on mountain gorillas in Rwanda from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. She was part of the Trimates assigned to study apes by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. She wrote Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned into a film.

 2 Bruno Latour

Bruno Latour
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beaune, France

Holberg Prize-winning French sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour had initially studied theology and even received his PhD in the subject. His later research Ivory Coast drew him to anthropology, and he soon gained fame as a renowned academic in the field, having co-written iconic books such as Laboratory Life.

 3 Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall
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Famous As: Primatologist
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

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 4 Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts
4
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bristol
Biological anthropologist Alice Roberts has taught at the University of Birmingham and led the charity Humanists UK. She gained fame as the presenter of shows such as Dr. Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young and The Incredible Human Journey. She has also authored books such as The Complete Human Body.

 5 David Graeber

David Graeber
4
Famous As: Anthropologist, Professor
Birthdate: February 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: September 2, 2020

David Graeber, who was a well-known name in the fields of social and economic anthropology, is best remembered for his bestselling book Bullshit Jobs. A lifelong anti-capitalist, he spoke against bureaucracy and also led the Occupy movement. He died abruptly of necrotic pancreatitis, while vacationing in Venice.

 6 Marshall Sahlins

Marshall Sahlins
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Educationist, University teacher
Birthdate: December 27, 1930
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago

Born to a Russian immigrant doctor father in Chicago, Marshall Sahlins grew up to be one of the most celebrated cultural anthropologists of the world. The University of Chicago professor is also known for his books such as The Use and Abuse of Biology and Stone Age Economics.

 7 Paul Ekman

Paul Ekman
4
Famous As: Psychologist, Anthropologist, Sociologist, Non-fiction writer, University teacher
Birthdate: February 15, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
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 8 Talal Asad

Talal Asad
3
Famous As: anthropologist
Birthdate: 1933 AD
Birthplace: Medina

Sociocultural anthropologist and City University of New York professor Talal Asad is best known for his research on nomads, postcolonialism, and the culture of nations such as Sudan. He has also taught at the universities of Khartoum and Hull, and penned books such as On Suicide Bombing.

 9 David Harvey

David Harvey
4
Famous As: Professor of Anthropology & Geography
Birthdate: October 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gillingham, Kent, England

David Harvey is a  Marxist economic geographer, podcaster, and a fellow of the British Academy. He is currently a distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He has authored many books and essays and is one of the most cited authors of books in the humanities and social sciences.   

 10 René Girard

René Girard
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 25, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: November 4, 2015

René Girard was a French philosopher of social science, literary critic, and historian. Over the years, Girard's work has had an influence on disciplines like philosophy, anthropology, psychology, mythology, theology, economics, sociology, and cultural studies among other important disciplines. In 2006, René Girard was honored by the University of Tübingen with the prestigious Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize.

 11 Steven Erikson

Steven Erikson
4
Famous As: Anthropologist, Writer
Birthdate: October 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Toronto

Canadian novelist Steven Erikson is best-known for authoring the widely acclaimed ten-volume epic-fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen. Other notable works of Erikson include The Kharkanas Trilogy, a prequel to Malazan Book of the Fallen series; the Willful Child Trilogy, a spoof on Star Trek; and The Witness Trilogy, first novel of which is planned for a November-2021 release.

 12 Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer
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Birthdate: October 26, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: North Adams, Massachusetts

Paul Farmer is a medical anthropologist and physician, currently serving as the chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is a co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization. He is a proponent of liberation theology and writes extensively on health and human rights. 

 13 Richard Leakey

Richard Leakey
3
Famous As: Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: December 19, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya
Died: January 2, 2022

Born to anthropologist parents, Richard Leakey initially worked as a safari guide. On an expedition to Ethiopia, he and his men stumbled upon Koobi Fora, a site where they unearthed numerous tools and fossils. The Kenyan paleoanthropologist later lost his legs in a plane crash and now uses artificial limbs.

 14 Michael Taussig

Michael Taussig
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, University teacher
Birthdate: April 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sydney

With a medical degree from University of Sydney and a PhD in anthropology from London School of Economics, Michael Taussig is famed for his provocative ethnographic studies and unconventional style of teaching. Best known for his commentaries on Karl Marx, especially in relation to the idea of commodity fetishism, he has also produced several well-researched works on medical anthropology. .

 15 Geert Hofstede

Geert Hofstede
4
Famous As: Psychologist, University teacher, Anthropologist, Economist
Birthdate: October 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Haarlem

 16 Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, academic, and crime writer. She has been certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of numerous technical books and has also written many novels. She also produced the TV series Bones, based on her works. 

 17 Nancy Scheper-Hughes

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
2
Famous As: anthropologist
Birthdate: September 25, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City

 18 Jim Yong Kim

Jim Yong Kim
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: December 8, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Seoul, South Korea

Jim Yong Kim, or Kim Yong, was born in South Korea and later moved to the US, where he grew up to be the president of the World Bank. The physician and anthropologist has also taught at Harvard Medical School, his alma, and co-owns the medical care company Partners in Health.

 19 Gayle Rubin

Gayle Rubin
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, university teacher, essayist, LGBT rights activist
Birthdate: 1949 AD

Gayle Rubin is a cultural anthropologist known for writing on a wide range of topics, such as feminism, sadomasochism, prostitution, homosexuality, pedophilia, and pornography. She studied at the University of Michigan and was part of early feminist groups. After earning her Ph.D. in anthropology, she began her academic career. She is also associated with several feminist journals. 

 20 Helen Fisher

Helen Fisher
3
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: United States

Best known for her research on the biological dynamics of love and sex, anthropologist Helen Fisher has also penned iconic self-help books such as Anatomy of Love and Why We Love. She has also worked with match.com, to develop a personality-based compatibility system and has been a TED speaker.

 21 Donald Johanson

Donald Johanson
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Paleoanthropologist, University teacher
Birthdate: June 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago

Donald Johanson is a paleoanthropologist. He collaborated with Yves Coppens and Maurice Taieb to discover the fossil of a female hominin australopithecine in the Afar Triangle region of Hadar, Ethiopia. This fossil was named “Lucy". As an academician, he established the Institute of Human Origins in Berkeley. He is the recipient of several awards and honors. 

 22 Koenraad Elst

Koenraad Elst
3
Famous As: Columnist, Anthropologist, Journalist, Writer
Birthdate: August 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leuven

 23 Froyla Tzalam

Froyla Tzalam
1
Famous As: 3rd Governor-General of Belize
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: San Antonio, Belize

 24 Arjun Appadurai

Arjun Appadurai
3
Famous As: anthropologist, sociologist
Birthdate: February 4, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mumbai

Arjun Appadurai is an anthropologist widely regarded as a major theorist in globalization studies.  Born in India, he migrated to USA as a young man. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago and embarked on an academic career. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  

 25 Emmanuel de Merode

Emmanuel de Merode
3
Famous As: Prince
Birthdate: May 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Carthage, Tunisia

 26 Anthony F.C. Wallace

Anthony F.C. Wallace
2
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: April 15, 1923
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Died: October 5, 2015

 27 Michael Tomasello

Michael Tomasello
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Psychologist
Birthdate: January 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bartow

 28 Spencer Wells

Spencer Wells
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Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: April 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Marietta

Renowned population geneticist Spencer Wells is best known for his study of human diversity. His analysis has led him to believe that all humans have descended from a single man from Africa, the Y-chromosomal Adam, who lived around 60,000-90,000 years back. He has also headed National Geographic’s Genographic Project.

 29 Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir

Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 25, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Reykjavík, Iceland

 30 Scott Atran

Scott Atran
3
Famous As: anthropologist, political scientist
Birthdate: 1952 AD
Birthplace: New York City

 31 Arturo Escobar

Arturo Escobar
3
Famous As: anthropologist
Birthdate: 1952 AD
Birthplace: Manizales

 32 Lila Abu-Lughod

Lila Abu-Lughod
0
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: October 21, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States

 33 Jack Goody

Jack Goody
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, University teacher, Non-fiction writer, Sociologist
Birthdate: July 27, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hammersmith
Died: July 16, 2015

Apart from teaching at Cambridge, British social anthropologist Jack Goody also penned books such as Death, Property and the Ancestors. He had also fought in World War II. His work in sociology earned him the knighthood. He was also made a Fellow of The British Academy.

 34 Tim Ingold

Tim Ingold
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Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: November 1, 1948
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kent, England

Timothy Ingold, a British anthropologist, is a Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He discussed his entire career in the book From science to art and back again: The pendulum of an anthropologist. Ingold taught at the University of Helsinki (1973–74) and thereafter at the University of Manchester; he became professor in 1990 and Max Gluckman Professor in 1995.


 

 35 Sidney Mintz

Sidney Mintz
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, University teacher
Birthdate: November 16, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dover
Died: December 26, 2015

 36 Louise Leakey

Louise Leakey
3
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: March 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya

 37 Lee Rogers Berger

Lee Rogers Berger
3
Famous As: Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: December 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shawnee Mission, Kansas, United States

 38 Tim D. White

Tim D. White
2
Famous As: Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Paleoanthropologist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 24, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 39 Eugenie Scott

Eugenie Scott
2
Famous As: Anthropologist, University teacher
Birthdate: October 24, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: United States of America

 40 Philippe Bourgois

Philippe Bourgois
2
Famous As: anthropologist
Birthdate: 1956 AD

 41 Lewis Binford

Lewis Binford
3
Famous As: Archaeologist
Birthdate: November 21, 1931
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Died: April 11, 2011

 42 Meave Leakey

Meave Leakey
2
Famous As: Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: July 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England

British paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey discovered a new branch of the human species, the Kenyanthropus platyops, or the flat-faced man of Kenya. Initially a zoologist in Nairobi, she studied modern monkeys as part of her doctoral research. She is the first Kenyan to be a National Academy of Sciences member.

 43 Daniel Miller

Daniel Miller
0
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: 1954 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Anthropologist Daniel Miller is closely associated with studies of human relationships to things, the consequences of consumption and digital anthropology. His recent book, Stuff, summarises his theoretical work first developed in Material Culture and Mass Consumption. Miller founded digital anthropology programme at University College London. Since the early 2000s, Daniel Miller has been researching effects of new social media on society. 

 44 Marilyn Strathem

Marilyn Strathem
0
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: March 6, 1941
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wales
Marilyn Strathern, a British anthropologist, dealt with issues of reproductive technologies in UK. She worked largely with the Mount Hagen people of Papua New Guinea. Over her career, Strathern published over 15 books, 44 journal articles and 57 book chapters. Her doctoral thesis, published as Women in Between, was the first ethnography of that period to focus on Melanesian women.

 45 Stella Nyanzi

Stella Nyanzi
1
Famous As: Human rights activist
Birthdate: June 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jinja, Uganda

 46 Arthur Kleinman

Arthur Kleinman
0
Famous As: Psychiatrist
Birthdate: March 1, 1941
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 47 Sherry Ortner

Sherry Ortner
2
Famous As: Anthropologist, University teacher
Birthdate: September 19, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newark

 48 Fei Xiaotong

Fei Xiaotong
2
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: November 2, 1910
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wujiang District, Suzhou, China
Died: April 24, 2005

 49 Genevieve Bell

Genevieve Bell
0
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

Apart from teaching at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, Australian anthropologist Genevieve Bell has also had an 18-year stint at Silicon Valley as an Intel Fellow. The Stanford alumna is also a TED speaker and has been named an Officer of the Order of Australia.

 50 Johnnetta Cole

Johnnetta Cole
2
Famous As: Anthropologist and educator
Birthdate: October 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida, United States